Grandma Makes a Good Bed

Posted on 3/31/2008 02:12:00 AM
But then again, so does Momma.

Yesterday The Dormouse fell asleep in the car on the way to church and I was obliged to carry all forty pounds of her into the building and then plop her down on the pew with her head on my lap. She snuggled up until her head was bent at a ninety degree angle and then put her feet up on the diaper bag sitting on the pew until her feet were also at a ninety degree angle and her body looked like the letter "V". She slept lik
e that for another twenty minutes.

The Caterpillar, on the other hand, fits much more nicely into your arms, but even in her sleep she never stops moving and will, little by little, squirm in your grasp until she has worked herself out of your grip and you are now holding her by a leg and one ear. If you try to reposition her or put her in the car seat for easier portability, she will wake up.

I'm wondering if there's some sort of award out there for the Most Awkward Sleeping Positions. Maybe a little known Guiness catagory? Because if there is? These girls would win it, hands down.

My thoughts: 

Pancake Picnic

Posted on 3/30/2008 04:26:00 AM
This year, our church services begin at 1:00 pm. We share the building with two other congregations and since no one wants to have the "crappy" time all the time, we rotate each year.

Oh and just in case you do not have kids and you don't believe me about 1:00 pm being considered the "crappy" time, just come with me to the children's class one week and watch two dozen kids each have seven little mini breakdowns, each breakdown with a different trigger, while I try to teach them to sing Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam. Then next week visit a congregation where they start at 9:00 am and listen to the same thing but with non-nap-deprived subjects. You haven't lived until you've had an eleven year old girl launch herself into a crying fit because you've just covered up the words of a line to a song on the blackboard that you are trying to get them to memorize (the line that is repeated five other places in the same song and not covered up in those five other instances, by the way) because it "makes her feel stupid" when you do this.

It is so bad, in fact, that for several years - when we still had three congregations sharing the building - they used to try and have all three congregations begin their services before 11:00, just because no one wanted the "crappy" time. We just scheduled everything so we were all using different parts of the building at different times. There wasn't a classroom, table, or chair to spare, but no one wanted to start at 1:00 pm, so we all put up with it for years. Then as the congregations started growing in numbers, it got ridiculous and whoever got there late, meaning 9:01 or later, had to risk getting their vehicles towed by parking at the nearby shopping center and walking over because, much like the housing market at the time, parking spot real estate had become a premium that only people who got there at 6:00 am could partake of. Finally, in a meeting one Sunday, the ward council (basically, a "church committee" for the uninitiated out there) was all sitting around in its meeting trying to work out yet another schedule that would allow us all to be using the building at the same time, but not have us all bumping into each other in the process. The proposed schedule had been written up on the board, everyone had agreed, and we were about to move on to another subject when my astute friend Ed pointed out that one of the proposed meeting times was fifteen minutes too long. "That second time slot ends up being more than three hours," he said, "Somebody's gettin' more church than they need!"

That's when The KoH's head exploded and he launched into a diatribe about how stupid this was, trying to fit nine hundred people in a building made for three hundred and if we didn't bite the bullet soon and start spreading our meeting times out a bit more not only was the church going to have to start a shuttle bus service, but also one day we might just be shut down by the fire marshal because we exceeded the building capacity sign on the wall. I don't know how he did it but he convinced them to go back to a schedule where one congregation started at 9:00, one at 11:00 and one at 1:00. It made sense at the time, but let me point out that we did not have kids back then and there was no "crappy" time to us. If this whole event were happening now, I'd be inclined to slap some duct tape over his mouth.

So now, one congregation starts at 9:00, one at 11:00 and one at 1:00. We rotate times each year so no one has to have the "crappy" time all the time. We have the "crappy" time this year. (Man, that was a long way to go to explain why we go to church at 1:00, wasn't it?)

Even though I'd gladly chew through my own leg to get out of the trap of having to teach grade school aged kids Jesus songs when they really should be napping, there are some cool things about starting church that late on Sunday. Mainly, I am not inclined to do anything other than sit around in my pajamas and leisurely hang out with my family all morning long each Sunday. We take our time getting ready - we have the entire morning, after all - and there's very little of the usual morning script in our house which attempts to get The Dormouse to eat a bowl of yogurt in under seventy-five minutes. That script goes something like this: "Eat your breakfast. Sit back down and eat your breakfast. Get your feet off the table and eat your breakfast. Stop rocking your chair and eat your breakfast. Quit crawling on the floor and eat your breakfast. Leave the baby alone and eat your breakfast. Get out of the bathtub and eat. I'm going to put on the timer. OK, I've put on the timer. You have two minutes left to eat. Eat. Eat. Eat. Eat! EAT! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY IN THIS WORLD, EEEEEEAAAAAAAAT!!!!!!!!"

Some Sundays, I'll even spend some time and *gasp* cook something for breakfast.

Several weeks ago, I was making pancakes and The Dormouse was hovering around my feet asking questions. I was looking for a distraction. "You'd better go into the living room and get ready."

"What are we going to do now Momma?"

"Something special."

"What special thing are we going to do?"

"We're going to have a Pancake Picnic." (I have no idea -- I just pulled it out of my ass.)

It seemed completely plausible to her. "Yay! A Pancake Picnic!! I haven't had a Pancake Picnic in SUCH a long time."

"Yep, so you better go set the picnic table."

It worked. She ran off and spent the next half hour setting up our "picnic breakfast." She had pillows for everyone to sit on, set the "table" with plastic picnic wear, decorated the room and even placed a toy specially chosen for each participant at everyone's seat. She was so excited, she was beside herself and I think she drove Daddy mad by going back and forth making tiny adjustments to the set up.* But, hey, I got to finish making breakfast without a four-year-old question machine encircling my feet. Sometimes parenting is all about pushing off the kids onto the other parent... but doing it artfully.

Then we all sat on the floor in the living room and ate pancakes.

Thus, a tradition was born in the Wonderland household. I wonder if this is how Christmas got started?

*does anyone notice the jar of peanut butter in the photo? I'm just wondering if there are other people in the world besides my husband who will not eat pancakes without peanut butter to put on them. Because he thinks this is perfectly normal.

My thoughts: 


Posted on 3/30/2008 04:00:00 AM

She watches TV like it's her job.

My thoughts: 

Life is Just a Basin of Cherries

Posted on 3/29/2008 07:30:00 AM
It's Cherry Blossom time in D.C.!!

OK, not cherries, magnolias. But pretty, right?

View of the tidal basin


My thoughts: 

We're Goin' to the Zoo Zoo Zoo

Posted on 3/29/2008 03:38:00 AM
Just before my mother left town this week, we went for a drive in Rock Creek Park. When I realized we were near the National Zoo, we decided to stop by and see how our old friend Butterstick was doing. It was The Caterpillar's first trip to the zoo and for the most part, I'd say she was unimpressed. I guess maybe it was too early to quiz her on the scientific name of each species?

This burro actually fell asleep in this position. I wish I could do that.

Hungry, hungry hippo

Sleepy, sleepy pygmy hippo

Tai Shan -- this is the giant panda equivalent of singing in the shower

How can you tell he's a adolescent panda? Because he has freckles on his face.

Jumbo the elephant.

The Caterpillar was carried off by a couple of bald eagles and taken to their nest. Next time I'll know not to leave her alone in an open field.

Apparently the lemurs enjoy the occasional African drumming session.
The Caterpillar L-O-V-E-D it.

This stilt walker was there entertaining the animals; the pandas, hippos and elephants liked him too.

My thoughts: 

Safety Tips From Plastic Babies

Posted on 3/29/2008 03:14:00 AM
I was rear ended the other day by some guy who thought apparently that he wouldn't wait wait for that long line at the light but rather simply go through it. Neither The Dormouse nor The Caterpillar was in the car with me. I heard (and felt) the crash and pulled over to the side, fully expecting my beloved station wagon to have its rear end completely mangled. To my surprise, when I got out to inspect the damage, the only obvious thing was a tiny screw-head shaped mark on the fender from his license plate holder and a slight headache. Either some heavenly power was watching out for me, or my propensity for putting the car in neutral and sitting at stop lights with my foot off the brake has finally started to work to my advantage.

It's a good thing that I learned from The Babies to always wear my seat belt.

My thoughts: 

The Whole Truth

Posted on 3/28/2008 02:27:00 AM
The Parent Bloggers Network's blogging blast this week is sponsored by these guys. I love Discovery Health because I am currently obsessed with the television show Jon & Kate + 8. I like to watch and remind myself that I'm just really pretty happy with only two children in my home. As it is, I think if they ever manage to sway the cat over to their side, we may lose control of the house.

But I digress. The subject at hand is "motherhood truths"... specifically:
We want to hear your truth: What is it about pregnancy, parenting, and motherhood in general that only a girlfriend will tell you? Tell us what you wished you knew before becoming a mom.
I've been pretty lucky in my profession to be exposed to a myriad of different approaches and techniques that can be carried over into parenthood. I've edited books about such subjects as premature infants, special education, and mental health. So like many people I assume, before becoming a parent I thought I had some pretty good ideas and many of the answers to parenting's greatest questions.

I'm familiar w
ith Dr. Sears, Dr. Spock, and Dr. Seuss.

I've read
Pushed, What to Expect When You're Expecting, and Pregnancy Sucks.

I've worked alongside doulas, midwives, obstetricians, teachers, and psychologists.

I know theories about vaccinations that would scare the pants off you, have experienced the power of positive thinking and can tell you where every homeopathic medicine shop is within a fifty mile radius. I even own a nice selection of crystals and gem stones.

In my professional circle, I know massage therapists, chiropractors, dance therapists, acupuncturists, reiki masters, psychodramatists, art therapists, and energy therapists. After putting all that into practice with my own children, I think I've learned a thing or two. Those are my credentials.

So after searching the world over and gathering all the information at my disposal, I've decided to share what I've learned. Get ready. I am about to impart to you, the Interweb, the greatest, overwhelming, universal truth about motherhood.

The greatest, overwhelming, universal truth about motherhood is:
There is no greatest, overwhelming, universal truth about motherhood.

*sound of needle scratching on vinyl record*

Yeah, you heard me right. Between all my studies and education, now combined with three pregnancies and four kids worth of experience, here's the great truth about motherhood I've learned: What works for you, works for you. And what works for you does not necessarily work for someone else. And guess what? You are the only one who can figure out what works for you. Guess what else? What works for you once with one kid might not even work for you again with another kid.

The truth about motherhood is there's no one right way to do it.

Seriously, if there were only one way to do child birth, discipline or medical care, there wouldn't be so many options to try. People would have tried a method, figured out it doesn't work and moved onto another one that does. God would have made each baby with a hollow place in its bottom where the manual is stored. But all these methods and theories must be working for somebody.

The only useful truth about motherhood worth knowing is that if you can't have an open mind and be flexible, you're pretty much making your existence much harder. That and you should try to have a sense of humor about it because otherwise there's an awful lot of hand wringing to be done. I'm guessing that's true about life in general too, but I'll have to check the manual.

My thoughts: 

Requiem for the Dead

Posted on 3/27/2008 09:05:00 AM
This weekend, I'm playing a concert that includes a piece called The Banks of Green Willow by George Butterworth as well as the Third Symphony by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Vaughan Williams is one of my very favorite composers, so I was down with that one. But the Butterworth is less well known. We weren't familiar with it at all and at the first rehearsal, it was a little hairy. I was concerned. I texted Monica from the break that night:

"Have you ever played anything by Butterworth? I'm wondering it if ever gets better than the read-through."

She texted back with: "No, I have not played any Butterworth, but I love her syrup."

Everyone's a comedian. (Actually I'm just jealous I didn't think of that first.)

My favorite remarks about the third symphony include Constant Lambert, who said that it reminded him of a cow looking over a gate and Stravinsky who described it as "like staring at cow for a long time."

As much as I've always liked Vaughan Williams, I don't really know much about him and since this is a favorite piece of our conductor, he's been taking moments throughout this rehearsal schedule to educate us. I am now as fascinated with this symphony as he is. Vaughan Williams was an ambulance driver during World War I and this piece was written while he was doing that job. He was inspired by the landscape he saw there and the symphony is called the "Pastoral," but it's specifically the landscape of France during the war. A requiem for the dead, if you will. The sounds and images of the symphony are mud, guns, heavy equipment, and bombs juxtaposed with rolling hills, big fluffy clouds in the sky, and tall grass waving in the wind.

At one point the maestro actually stopped us and said, "Now remember, this is the climax of the entire piece. Musically, here is where he comes closer than anywhere else to having a breakdown about all the death and carnage he'd seen. There should be an emotional catharsis coming next, but it's not going to happen... because he's English. So instead it gets all quiet and subdued again."
Its passions run very deep below a largely dispassionate surface. It seems to grant the dead eternal rest. The 2nd movement is a trumpet solo echoing the mood of "The Last Post". In the last movement, a wordless soprano floats over and through the music and time stops. The one voice turns out to be something like the voice of the wind.

Notes on RVW's Symphonies

We've gone to the extra effort to make the soprano sound ethereal and she has to begin her solo back stage then later climb up into the rafters of the concert hall to sing her last solo at the end. I think they may even be bringing a black sheet for her to stand behind so that no one can see where the voice is coming from nor who is singing. I know this wasn't planned as a political statement when the board scheduled it more than a year ago but it seems somewhat coincidental that we're playing this the week that we've reached 4,000 American soldier deaths in Iraq.

George Butterworth was a close friend of Ralph Vaughn Williams. A couple of weeks ago, someone in the orchestra wondered aloud why there was so little repertoire from Butterworth. The maestro said, "Oh, didn't you know? Butterworth was killed in the war. He was only 24. Vaughn Williams had one of the longest creative periods in musical history. Imagine if Butterworth had survived World War I. What might he have written?"

I wonder.

My thoughts: 

Easter Picture Madness

Posted on 3/27/2008 08:20:00 AM
I don't really know what possessed me to do this on the day before Easter weekend but I convinced everyone on Friday that it would be a good idea to take the girls to a photo studio to have their pictures taken. I've taken about a thousand kajillion (yes, that's a number!) pictures of The Caterpillar since she was born but where I've fallen off the Second Child Mommy Wagon is with having any kind of professional portraits taken. I haven't done a single one.

So the guilt finally
overcame me and I decided to have some Springtime portraits of them both. Guilt that ended up costing me about $300, I might add. Note to self: ignore guilt in the future -- it's less expensive.

We got quite a few nice photos of them both despite The Dormouse turning into a tiny Fellini:

Now let's do a picture with these eggs."

"Now, let's
stand up."

"I need a picture with my kitty."

"Now me and sister together with this stuffed bunny."

"How about I sit in this fire truck and sister sits in the airplane?"

I kept waiting for her to suggest that Death, Goudeau and Barbie all be playing chess in the background while sitting on armadillos.

I continually apologized to the very patient photographer and kept saying, "You sir, are a saint, I say. A SAINT!"

The photo session itself was kind of
fun. It was the picking out photos that made my head want to explode. I couldn't decide who needed copies and kept going back and forth until it occurred to me that I had a scanner at home and I got the bright idea to just get one 8x10 of each pose and then I could scan them later. Take that THE MAN!

But even then, the torture was not over because the clerk could not figure out how to manhandle the computer into taking all the multiple discounts and coupons my voluminous order garnered me. I stood at the counter so long my shoes left impressions in the floor.

I stood there so long that I started talking with the dude in the Easter Bunny costume who by law, I think, could not speak back.
"So you're the employee who drew the short straw and got stuck in the Bunny Suit on the day before Easter weekend, huh?" I said.

The Easter Bunny nodded his head sadly.

Finally, the clerk finished ringing up my order and I had to leave post haste before the stench of soccer mom permeated my skin. By the time our photo shoot was done (we wisely got there about two minutes before they opened, knowing that the place would be a madhouse in little over a half hour -- I'm not a complete idiot), the lobby was filled with screaming kids in adorable Easter outfits.

One uptight mom brought four kids, two girls and two boys, all in coordinating outfits... and all under about five years. They were adorable but not one of the kids was happy. I feel for the photographer who has to make four cranky kids all look at the camera at the same time and smile. I know from experience that it is not easy.

Uptight Mom kept singing Happy Birthday to You, thinking that would get their attention, and trying to get all the folks waiting in the lobby to join in with her to make it believable. Then she kept getting frustrated with all the other parents in the room who were too busy wrangling their own screaming, yet adorably dressed, kid to join in her little ruse. After about the thirty fifth repeat of Happy Birthday, I was ready to nix any future celebrations my children might ever have.

Uptight Mom had this great idea to have all the kids lie on their backs on the floor in a pinwheel formation and have the photographer stand on a step stool to take the picture from above. They finally got them all down and just as the photographer raised up the camera, one little girl sat up and started crying. Uptight Mom walked over to her, placed her foot on the little girl's chest, pushed her down and held her there then growled to the photographer, "Take the picture!"


Man, I would love to have seen those proofs.

My thoughts: 

Half Pint

Posted on 3/26/2008 05:40:00 PM
The Caterpillar turned six months old this month. We celebrated her half birthday with a half cake. The Dormouse, apparently heard wrong when told to "decorate for The Caterpillar's half birthday" and instead decorated The Caterpillar for her half birthday.

My thoughts: 

Ohev Sholom

Posted on 3/26/2008 06:17:00 AM

Ohev Sholom is Washington D.C.'s National Synagogue. My mother and I went hunting this place down on Monday and stopped to take photos. No, we're not Jewish, we were just knew that Al Jolson's father, Chazan Moshe Yoelson, led the services of Talmud Torah from the 1890s through the 1920s and the family lived on the premises of the synagogue. (I'm mildly obsessed with Al Jolson. Perhaps "mildly" is putting it mildly. He was arguably the first great American superstar and if you can find a good recording of him that far back, his voice makes me melt. These days he gets a lot of flack and controversy about the blackface bit, but if you know anything about his life, he was actually one of the more progressive people of his time and the last thing anyone could ever call him was a racist. It's unfortunate that the times were such that something like that was not only accepted, but popular and singers in Vaudeville felt it was necessary to perform that way.)

So anyway, here we are standing directly in front of the synagogue, wondering where it was that Al ran around and played as a kid. Did he sing with his father in that room there? Perhaps they lived in the basement? Was there another building back then? The construction looks rather new, was it built onto later and we can no longer see the original structure? Maybe he climbed that tree behind the building.

In preparation for posting these photos, I decided to look up some information on the synagogue's history and found this:

In 1886, during the administration of Grover Cleveland, a group of devout Russian immigrant Jews who had fled the tyrannical rule of Czar Alexander III founded Ohev Sholom Congregation. Among the founders of Ohev Sholom were Moses Sterman, Nathan Rudderman and Herman Sachs. The first services were held on the second floor over Myer Fisher's clothing store on 7th Street N.W. As Ohev Sholom grew and required more space it moved - eventually to I Street N.W. in 1906, where it remained for the next fifty years.

The nucleus of Talmud Torah was a group of twenty-eight families in Southwest Washington who conducted daily minyans together. They first met in Isaac Levy's clothing store, Levy's Busy Corner, on 4 1/2 Street S.W. They used a sefer torah that Morris Garfinkle had contributed to the minyan. The group later met in various members' homes on 4 1/2 Street, M Street, F Street and School Street. Their last meeting place was in Samuel Kessler's home before they moved to a permanent synagogue on E Street S.W.

Congregation Talmud Torah stayed on E Street S.W. for almost fifty years until a government redevelopment program forced them to leave Southwest in the early 1950's. On April 27, 1952 they moved into B'nai Israel's former synagogue at 14th and Emerson and in 1957 the moved once again to The Hebrew Academy at 16th Street and Fort Stevens Drive.

On July 7, 1958 Ohev Sholom and Talmud Torah merged, creating a congregation of six hundred families. The newly built synagogue of the merged congregation was dedicated on November 27, 1960, and opened its doors as the Ohev Sholom Talmud Torah Congregation.

So sorry, mother, it looks like Al not only did not live there but he was never anywhere near that place. Maybe next time I'll do my research before we go stand in someone's yard to take pictures.

It was a cool building though, right?

My thoughts: 

Magnifying Their Calling

Posted on 3/25/2008 06:55:00 AM
I ordered this flower vase from a catalog last year. You open the vase from the bottom, fill the vase with water, immerse the flowers in the water and then turn it back over. It's the coolest way to display flowers I've ever seen -- especially these tiny Narcissus Narcissuses Narcissi Narcissus flowers. (What is the accepted plural of Narcissus anyway?) The water magnifies them and makes them look like full blown daffodils.

My thoughts: 

Food, Glorious Food

Posted on 3/25/2008 06:40:00 AM
The Caterpillar's first meal: Photo retrospective

Breaking my silence to point out how KoH has his mouth open wide here as a shining example of How To Eat.

My thoughts: 

Me in 3 Seconds

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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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